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Short Story Contest > [2013, Nov] My Soul Sings

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message 1: by Zenab (new)

Zenab Ch | 2099 comments Mod
Zuzana's unearthly screams that filled the night and echoed over the forest and mountains pierced his heart in the most physical way possible, would haunt Azaiah forever. What would haunt him more was the jeering that accompanied it, that stirred an animalistic desire to tear those people apart. She looked like a goddess with her black, long hair whipping around her as she stood there in white. That feeling of helplessness he felt when she set her eyes upon him felt so unnerving, he almost forgot it was sweet old Zuzana he was looking at. It wasn't the look of fear or shame. They were going to kill her, and it wasn't pride he saw blazing in her eyes brighter than the fire. It was challenge. That look held him captive forever; before she closed her eyes and the flames danced around her, engulfing her, consuming her as her screams died away; after the smell of her burned flesh and bones clung in the air, and her ashes were scattered by the cold night winds. All the people of Samahaya that had come here to witness this execution returned to their homes. Azaih stood there under the moon that shone over the night, the moonlight mocking him, almost laughing at him for vowing to spend every waking moment of his life with her, just the way every waking moment of the past twenty five years his life were filled with the bright memory of either her velvety touch, her musical voice, her captivating eyes or her alluring presence. Losing her felt like losing himself. He felt a mixture of numbness and rage flow through him. The song she would often sing echoed in his mind, beautifully and devastatingly fitting scene that would play in his head over and over again.
"Oh, I am a bird without wings,
My soul sings, my soul sings,
Oh, I yearn to taste the joy of my dreams,
My soul sings, my soul sings.
Oh, I wish I could fly and taste the flight of my wings,
Oh, but this hope stings, this hope stings.
Dangling over hell, my spirit swings, my spirit swings.
I wish to drown in your enchanting melody,
I'll let it burn under your gaze, my body, my body,
That's where Zuzana sinks, that's where Zuzana sinks..."

Samaya was a small country, free of conflicts; a land of the best healers, philosophers and astrologers, with wooden houses covered in bright vines, where people wore clothes embroidered with gold, but a country protected by its own fortress of mountains and the forest through which no outsider or even resident ever dared to go, beyond the dangerous, unchartered territories because no one ever came back. Legends said that it was the spirits of the forest that protected it, that they had the reins over the beasts that lived in its heart. The only way in and out of the forest was heavily guarded by the soldiers of king Elijah. Legend also said that if any Samahayan turned to the evil ways of life, the spirits would turn against them and not protect them any more. Azaiah believed that this was only a superstition to scare children into being obedient. After all, if the legend was really true, then Samahaya would have perished a long time ago because all those people who did this to Zuzana were evil. He thought their gold needed to be traded. What outsiders called electricity needed to be used here too, but his father called them the ways of evil. "I can't wait to be king," he would tell Zuzana. She always understood him.

They were sitting together that day, on a grassy river bank facing the trees, feet dangling and brushing over the sweet waters of the Ihashu river which flowed generously through Samahaya. Zuzana was the singer and story teller of the land, who would stand among the eager listeners every night about the fire to captivate them with the magic of her voice. She was singing when the noise erupted. He knew she couldn't have done it because they'd been together all that time. They called her a witch. Tied her to a stake and burned her alive before his eyes. Said they found a dead baby in her room, its blood smeared over the walls with demonic inscriptions.

"He's the witch's slave!" He heard them whisper now, as he snuck up to his house to eavesdrop the conversation of the council. He put his ear near the golden embroidered curtain. The six of them, his father Elijah and his mother, Niamh... that was her voice, saying, "He has already been doing her bidding. Did you hear him plead for her innocence?" There was no harshness in her voice. It was pure sadness and disappointment.
"Tomorrow, we sacrifice him for the spirits as well. It's for the best," was his father's voice that made the final decision of the hour long meeting. He stood there outside the window only for a second before he, and ran away as far as his numb legs would take him, into the forest.
***
One moment, Azaiah had everything and the next, he had nothing. He would keep going towards the west where a country called England was. He didn't care about dying, as branches scratched his face and limbs and insects bit him. He wanted the physical pain, which lessened the other pain. He hoped to walk into quick sand and put an end to this torment, or to see a monstrous beast. Grabbing his sword tight, he advanced through the night, making his way through the moon-lit forest where twigs snapped beneath his feet, toads chirped and dogs, perhaps wolves howled. He had no sense of time or being.
"Oh, I am a bird without wings," grated the wicked whisper against his ear and he jumped up, from his sleep, squinting at the sun, brandishing his sword. His ear still tingled. Azaiah's heart hammered right beneath his Adam's apple. He must be going mad, he thought, when it happened again, and the sheer evilness was dripping from the harsh whisper, "Oh, I yearn to taste the joy of my dreams. Don't you? Don't you?" the voice rattled. He whipped around with his sword, shaking the bitter coldness from his second ear now. "Wh-who's there?" he asked loudly, hiding the fear that was creeping up from his spine and bursting in his head. "Dangling over hell, my spirit swings, my spirit swings. Hell is so sweet, as sweet as sins, as sweet as sins," came the lovely voice of his Zuzana from right behind him and there was nothing more terrifying than this. Now, he wished dearly for a deadly beast instead. He didn't dare to move this time. Zuzana is dead. She is dead, he kept repeating this mantra in his head.
"I'll let it burn under your gaze, my body, come let's be where there's nobody," sang her lovely voice and at this, he had to turn around, holding his breath, and what he saw was definitely worse than a vicious beast- it was Zuzana, her face plastered with a wicked smile that stretched from one ear to the other, her beautiful face dripping with blood and soaking her once white close and her eyes- he wished he never saw those eyes- they shone with a demonic glow that took his breath away. He felt the morbid lethal intent right to his bone which shivered with that energy. "You sent me to hell, darling," she said in her smooth voice that was her own and not at the same time, "Won't you join me?"
He stood there petrified, his heart tearing into a million pieces before her body burst into flames and seared his face before he yelled and ran until his legs gave under him, until he could no longer hear her wails. The sun was on its away to the orange horizon over the trees when he came to a halt, breathless, kneeling before a tributary of the Ihashu river where he drank and splashed water on his burned face after seeing his blotched reflection.
The rest of the days were spent in a blur of terror and exhaustion, bordering on madness. Her apparition would come to him every now and then- sometimes her decapitated head would float to him, screaming bloody murder with bulging eyes, sometimes her cold hand would slither up his body, sending shivers through every bone, every part of his body, sometimes she would inhumanly crawl over the forest floor on all fours and each uneven jerk of her limbs would make him jolt and shudder, her screams would fill his ears until he thought he went deaf, her promise to take him to hell with her ever so terrifying, but the worst of all about her appearance every time was that smile, which stretched across her face, which scared the wits out of him. Each time he would run to the west and fall asleep until he got tired, each time he was woken up by her atrocious melody and so, a purpose became his main focus. He didn't know what this being was. He hoped it was a hallucination, or maybe the restless, angry soul of Zuzana but he would do something to avenge her death. And that he did.

***

"If you proceed from here, the ambush would be a suicide mission," Azaiah said to King Baldur of England, who was a bald man with a regal air to him, as he stood in his gold embroidered red cloak, wearing his bejewelled gold crown, his glasses sitting on his hooked nose. They both stood in his meeting chamber where all the wall brackets that were aglow with the lights they called bulbs that were run by electricity. There was a fireplace, though, and a large table in the center of the room where the map of Samahaya lay.
After months of planning, the British soldiers with their guns and red uniforms made their way in thousands. As they advanced through the narrow, trodden path, they shot into the trees with precision, delighted when they heard the thump of the bodies of Samahayan soldiers falling to the ground with their gold tipped spears. They advanced and spread into the country to plunder, to make people submit to the new rule or be killed, while Azaiah and a small group of British soldiers made their way into the palace, which was only a big, wooden house with golden engravings and blue-green flowers that climbed all over it. Bursting in through the heavy doors, they shot before the Samahayans could even blink an eye, and Azaiah walked right into his father's chamber and didn't talk, or relish in victory before he shot his father right in the head. Before he fell, he still had the apalled look as he stood in front of his bed, in his brown overcoat, his grey eyebrows coming into his eyes, his silver hair framing his ashen face when he saw his son he thought was long gone. "That was for Zuzana," Azaiah said. His mother came in calmly, as if she's been expecting it. She looked at him not without hate but disappointment. "Her enchantment works, " was all she said.
"How can you say that mother?" He yelled.
"What was the fault of all those people who died? Of all those children?"
"The would grow up to become like you. Like father. They would be as evil."
"Like you," she said, placidly, yet again, her blue eyes as placid as the coldest lake, her jet black hair tied back in a bun, but her sharp features as soft.
"Mother, I'm going to make us good now. We don't have to stick to the stupid old beliefs any more. I'm going to be just. I'll give people freedom."
Her face crumpled at that, then face hardened and her eyes had the same look as Zuzana had the day she died. "Kill me, please, because I don't want to die before the old ways die. You. Are. Evil."
"Sir, should we send king Baldur the message?" A soldier behind him asked expectantly.
"Yes," Azaiah found himself saying, "Yes, the mission is successful. Give King Baldur my regards. Come back in a fortnight to take the gold.

Fifteen years later
Niamh disappeared. People from other countries traded and mingled with Samahayans and the route was used frequently, their lives luxurious. They would buy everything. Labour was for the poor. Samahaya became a victorious nation. But when the plague started, and messages from all the neighbouring countries came begging for a cure, there was no answer.


message 2: by Zenab (new)

Zenab Ch | 2099 comments Mod
The best of healers were killed in that raid, the knowledge was either lost or forgotten. When other countries severed ties with them, Samahaya began crumbling, and when giant, black haired, fanged beasts came in from the forests and began dragging people away, the whole place was in mayhem. Azaiah sat on his bed, the curtains drawn but still letting in the golden sunlight, almost delirious in his state of stress when he heard a familiar melody-

"Oh, I wish I could fly and taste the flight of my wings,
Oh, but this hope stings, this hope stings.
Dangling over hell, my spirit swings, my spirit swings.
I wish to drown in your enchanting melody,
I'll let it burn under your gaze, my body,
That's where Zuzana sinks, that's where Zuzana sinks..."

Against his own will, he found himself whipping around, hoping his madness wasn't back, but there she stood, smiling serenely, looking as fresh and harmless as a daisy.
"My enchantment worked. Let me be your queen and I'll stop all this."
"You're not her!! You're not her!! You-she-died!" he screamed, not caring who heard.
"Magic is something used to explain the unexplained and fortunately for me, you didn't believe in the workings of nature."
"Why-why would you do this?" His mind was reeling.
"Why did you do this?" she asked instead.
"For you!"
"Then I did this for you. We'll both rule together, under the laws of Lord Satan. The spirits are no more. We chased them away. You and I, we're not that different."
"Wh-what do I have to do to stop all this?"
"Exactly what I did to have earned my place."
The demonic writings. The baby. No.
"Come on, you came so far. You didn't hesitate to kill Elijah."
"Don't you say his name with your bloody lips!"
"So much for missing me, my love."
"You're a witch!"
"So you wish to be what your father was?"
All this time, hating his father and in one second, realising Elijah had been right all along. She always determined, even now, what he thought and believed.
"We always have a choice."
She couldn't be killed. He had seen her burn but she was still alive.
He closed his eyes and immersed himself in a trance- 'oh God, forgive me, oh God help me,' he chanted over and over again. He scoured the country until he found Niamh by the Ihashu river, fell to his knees and begged, "Help me, and revive the old ways, please. Or we'll perish."
She looked down upon him, smiling sadly, "The enchantment is over everyone, and you have done it through her song you sing to them, and your eloquent speeches. They have already done the ritual that will stop it. Satan rules us and God won't help because we have all strayed from the path."
"But not you, mother, not you!"
"I have my choice, and you all have yours. Samahaya is dead. Forever."

And so, Azaiah went back to his beautiful palace in an advanced land and ruled with his queen Zuzana, knowing of the monthly child sacrifices they now did in open and lo and behold; they were free and rich. He lived with that guilt forever, those screams still haunting him and he cursed himself for being such a fool, guilt eating him up until one day, he began singing a song that broke the enchantment, a song that took Zuzana's breath away and killed her, breaking the spell and brought people back to their senses. , Samahaya became what it once was, upon the return of Niamh and the tale of Azaiah and Zuzana became one of the legends.

"A beast beneath enchanting demeanour,
A coward beneath stealthy armour,
Nothing but appraised murderers we are,
Deluded travellers from afar;
My soul sings, my soul sings,
It walks through the fire and in heaven it sinks, it sinks,
I'm a bird with torn wings,
That's what this path brings, hell it brings,
Dangling over heaven, my spirit swings, my spirit swings,
I wish to float in your enchanting melody,
Let it rise over the heavens,; alight, my body,
That's where Azaiah rises, that's where Azaiah rises,
Where they all blossom, the Samahayan roses, the Samahayan roses."


message 3: by Lara (new)

Lara Zuberi (larazuberi) | 569 comments I like it even though it's not the genre I know. The rich language makes one want to read it. I think this is Aalia.


message 4: by Owaiz (new)

Owaiz I agree, the language is very rich. Wish I could write like this. I like the names of the places, the river, the people. Magical.

And I don't think this is Aalia.


message 5: by Owaiz (new)

Owaiz Aalia wrote: "Aalia is more careful with typos..."

Exactly what my point was.


message 6: by Sameea (new)

Sameea | 292 comments Wow.. that was an enjoyable read! Loved the way it started, I really liked how poetic the writing was, the story had a motive, the pace it was moving at was perfect, not too slow nor too fast. 5 stars from me!


message 7: by Zenab (new)

Zenab Ch | 2099 comments Mod
Goodreaders please rate each story on a scale of 1-10 in the comments please. This way I can tally up the scores and choose a winner.


message 8: by Owaiz (new)

Owaiz Zenab wrote: "Goodreaders please rate each story on a scale of 1-10 in the comments please. This way I can tally up the scores and choose a winner."

But you said if we give scores then we should read all the stories. I can't read them all.


message 9: by Zenab (new)

Zenab Ch | 2099 comments Mod
Yes I guess the urdu one can be an exception. Yes owaiz, there are only 7 stories and you've read most of them already.


message 10: by Sameea (new)

Sameea | 292 comments Oops! i would give this a 9/10


message 11: by Xunaira (new)

Xunaira J. | 153 comments 9/10


message 12: by Sameea (new)

Sameea | 292 comments @Aalia hahaha yes, in my opinion a rating is slightly different to a scoring. 9/10 would still count as a 5 star story to me.


message 13: by Lara (new)

Lara Zuberi (larazuberi) | 569 comments 7.5/10


message 14: by Zenab (new)

Zenab Ch | 2099 comments Mod
9/10. Good job author


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